WASHINGTON — House GOP leaders relied heavily on Democrats Tuesday to pass a contentious measure to raise the debt ceiling and give President Obama more borrowing power after rank-and-file Republicans failed to win numerous demands.
The bill passed 221 to 201, with 193 Democrats and 28 Republicans voting yes, and 199 Republicans and two Democrats voting no. The Colorado delegation voted along party lines with Democratic Reps. Diane DeGette, Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter voting yes, and Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton voting no.
Republicans wanted the debt increase offset by spending cuts, language that fixed problems with Obamacare, Medicare and military pensions, and approval for the XL Keystone pipeline.
When Republicans walked away from the negotiating table empty-handed and took their votes with them, Boehner turned to Democrats for support.
“It’s the president driving up the debt and the president wanting to do nothing about the debt that’s occurring,” Boehner said.
“He will not engage in our long-term spending problem, and so let his party give him the debt ceiling increase that he wants,” Boehner said.
Some Republicans said that avoiding a confrontation with Democrats over the debt ceiling steadies Wall Street and keeps the political focus on Obamacare.
However, other Republicans argued that with the U.S. already $17 trillion in debt and families struggling to cope with the increased costs and complexities of Obamacare, raising the debt limit for more government spending would further erode the economy.
“America’s debt has continued to grow at unprecedented levels each year, and never before has our government operated with deficits exceeding $1 trillion annually until President Obama took office,” Gardner said.
“This gross mismanagement of our nation’s finances has left Americans with a deep sense of anxiety over Washington’s ability to solve our debt crisis, and who can blame them?” Gardner said.
Rep. Scott Tipton said that without comparable spending cuts in exchange for more spending authority, he could not support increasing the debt ceiling.
“We’re on the path to bankruptcy, and many vital programs will cease to exist if we continue,” Tipton said.
“That’s a crisis we need to address now. Washington needs to spend less, and chart a responsible fiscal course that ensures future generations aren’t left paying the bill for today’s decisions,” Tipton said.
The bill now goes to the Democratic-controlled Senate for approval, where Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, is already threatening a filibuster.
The Treasury Department predicts the U.S. will hit its borrowing ceiling by the end of February.